Custom-Made Ceramics, Trans-Atlantic Business Partnerships and Entrepreneurial Spirit in Early Modern Newfoundland: An Examination of the SK Vessels from Ferryland


DOI: 10.1007/s10761-014-0279-9

Cite this article as:
Gaulton, B.C. & Casimiro, T.M. Int J Histor Archaeol (2015) 19: 1. doi:10.1007/s10761-014-0279-9


Demonstrating ceramic ownership can be a challenging archaeological endeavor, particularly if one seeks to understand the movement and meaning of such vessels over space and time. A small collection of Portuguese faience plates and bowls bearing the initials SK, found during the excavation of a seventeenth-century English settlement at Ferryland, Newfoundland, is an exceptional case in this regard. The SK stands for Lady Sara Kirke, wife of Newfoundland governor Sir David Kirke and matriarch of the Ferryland plantation following her husband’s death in 1654. Historical and archaeological records demonstrate Lady Sara’s important role in guiding the family’s plantation to economic prosperity for close to three decades but her personalized ceramics provide avenues for further exploration. They are indicative of longstanding international trading relationships and associated mechanisms of gift giving, and a window into the use life of personalized ceramics in the context of early modern North America.


Portuguese faience Trans-Atlantic trade Personalized ceramics International exchange Heirlooms 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Instituto de Arqueologia e Paleociências/Instituto de História Contemporânea, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e HumanasUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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